#30. Mel Stottlemyre. 1941-2019.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Who knows. If he was born 10 years earlier, and if his career wouldn’t have ended at the age of 32 due to a rotator cuff injury, maybe Mel Stottlemyre would be in the Hall of Fame.

He was that good.

But #30 as a player (and #34 as a coach, because fellow #30, Willie Randolph, was a coach at the same time as Mel), had the misfortune to join a Yankees team as the dynasty was ending.

Mel, 22 and 13-3 at Richmond, was brought up to the Yanks in the middle of August 1964. In his first major league game, vs. Chicago at home, Mickey Mantle hit a HR over the 461 ft. sign and also the 23 ft. high fence/screen for a 502 ft hr.

As for Stottlemyre, he won that game and went 9-3, 2.06 down the stretch. The Yanks needed it, for they won the pennant by just one game. In one game at the end of that season, Mel not only pitched a two-hit shutout, but also went 5 for 5 as a hitter.

Because of an injury to Whitey Ford in game 1 of that 1964 WS, Mel had to start Games 2, 5 and 7. He won Game 2, had a ND in Game 5 and lost Game 7. Each time, his opponent was Hall-of-Famer Bob Gibson.

You thought an ace was on the way and coming off of their fifth straight pennant, that more pennants were forthcoming. You were half right.

Ace yes, but …

In 1965, the dynasty collapsed. Mel never pitched in another postseason game. He did win 20 games in 1965, 21 in 1968 and 20 in 1969. He would be a 5x All-Star. He would pitch in 250 or more innings every year from 1965-1973, leading the AL once, and pitching in 303 innings in 1969. He led the AL in 1965 with 291 IP.

In 1968, he won 21 games for a team that hit .214. He finished 10th in the MVP balloting that year.

He hit an inside-the-park grand slam in 1965.

He went 164-139, ERA 2.97, ERA+ 112 from 1964 to 1974. Had he pitched for the Yogi/Maris/Mantle Yankees instead of the Horace Clarke Yankees, who knows what he could have done.

In comparing pitchers like Catfish Hunter and Jim Palmer to Mel Stottlemyre, Dick Howser mentioned that Mel was better, but he didn’t have the support behind him. Palmer and Hunter, of course are in the HOF. Stottlemyre not.

Mel’s 162 g. average was 16-13, 2.97. Often for teams that couldn’t hit and outside of Murcer and White, had no one strong in those lineups.

He threw 40 shutouts. He led the league in CG twice, and in losses twice. 12-20 in 1966 and 14-18 in 1972. The ERAs were 3.80 and 3.22 in those years. ERA+ of 87 and 92.

From 1965-1973, the seasons where he pitched full-time, he was 17-14, ERA 2.98. 2.98! and an ERA+ of 111. No run support. Players like Maris, Mantle, Howard were aging. Pepitone didn’t become what he should have been. Neither did Ronnie Blomberg. Munson got there in 1970, and for years, all he had were White and Murcer.

At the age of 32 it was all over. Torn rotator cuff. Medical know-how wasn’t what it is today. Career over.

He became a pitching coach and helped the 1986 Mets to a WS title. He went to Houston for a couple of years.

And in 1996, came home. I will say, I was more excited in 1996 for Mel coming back home as pitching coach than I was with Joe Torre being hired as manager.

Mel won 4 WS rings as pitching coach for the Yanks from 1996-2005. He later went to Seattle to work with them.

In 1999, Mel was diagnosed with myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. It’s amazing that he lasted this long and it is a testament to the fighter he was.

It is too bad that Mel pitched in the dark ages of Yankees’ history in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

For had he pitched in the golden era, he’d be remembered as a pitcher as great as Ruffing, Hoyt, Ford, Gomez and Ruffing. And a pitcher he would develop .. Andy Pettite.

And others…

 

Rest in peace, Mel.

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No Machado now, but Arenado later?

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Ok, so the Yanks get two guys with Colorado connections. Tulowitzki and LeMahieu.

Could a third be on the way?

How about …. Nolan Arenado?

Could the Yanks be giving Miguel Andujar a chance at 3B to see if his defense improves, and then, if Andujar goes through a sophomore jinx or his defense doesn’t improve, could the Yanks then, in the middle of 2019 or during next year’s offseason, go after a 3B that they may consider better than Machado?

Could the Yanks be more enamored with Arenado and want to just wait another year for him? He would cost as much. After all, he is going to arbitration, earned $17.75MM in 2018 and is asking for $30MM. The Rockies are countering with $24MM.

Arenado, 28 in April, has played six seasons in the bigs, and has won a Gold Glove in EACH of those six seasons. Granted, Colorado has a lot to do with some offensive numbers, but he has led the league in doubles once, SF once, RBI twice, total bases twice, and HR three times. In the past four seasons, he has finished 8th, 5th, 4th and 3rd in MVP voting and has won the Silver Slugger in EACH of the last four seasons.

He is a .291 career hitter, and his 162 g. average is .291-34-114, OPS+ 121. In 2018, he hit .297-38-110, leading the NL in HR. OPS+ 133.

He is a free agent after the 2019 season. If Colorado is out of the picture in midseason, maybe Arenado goes on the block so the Rockies don’t lose him for nothing.

If not, Arenado is (unless he signs an extension with the Rockies) a free agent after the 2019 season.

So it appears the Yanks are committed to Andujar for 2019. But if Andujar slips backward, maybe just maybe, the Yanks then turn to someone they may consider better than Machado.

A better player, with, perhaps, a better attitude.

We’ll see.

But it’s interesting to consider that possibility, isn’t it?

 

 

Yanks sign LeMahieu, means probably out on Machado.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Yanks most likely are out on Manny Machado after they signed D.J. LeMahieu to a 2 yr., $24MM deal today.

With the acquisition, the Yanks now have Voit, Bird, Torres, LeMahieu, Tulowitzki, Andujar and Wade for the infield, and I would guess that Wade (and perhaps Bird) would be starting the year at AAA.

That is seven infielders, meaning no room for Machado unless someone goes.

LeMahieu is 30, and yet another righty bat on a team needing lefty balance. Oh well, he does go to the opposite field a lot. In 2018, he hit .276-15-62, OPS+ 88. He won the batting title in 2016, when he led the majors with a .348 mark and finished 15th in MVP voting. For his career, his 162 g. average is .298-8-59, OPS+ 92.

His numbers, however, are skewed by playing for Colorado. He is a .330 hitter at Colorado but a .264 hitter on the road.

So I wouldn’t expect his bat to equal what he did for Colorado.

The Yanks, however, didn’t get him for his bat. That would be a bonus.

They got him for his glove. LeMahieu, a 2x All-Star, has won 3 Gold Glove awards. Primarily a second baseman, he can also fill in at the other infield spots.

The Yanks can use him as a utility infielder. Also, if the recently acquired Troy Tulowitzki cannot cut it as the starting SS, the Yanks can slide Gleyber Torres over to SS and start LeMahieu at 2B. Remember that Tulo missed all of 2018 and only played in 66 games in 2017. Tulo, a 5x All-Star, has 2 Gold Gloves of his own.

So an infield that has the defensively challenged Voit and Andujar got defensive stalwarts in Tulowitzki and LeMahieu, even if neither Tulo nor LeMahieu match the offensive numbers they put up in Colorado.

And we don’t know at what point in the season we get Didi and his lefty bat back.

With the firepower the Yanks have offensively, these moves for Tulo and LeMahieu were based on defense first, and anything they give offensively (and it could be a lot) is a bonus.

In making the signing of Zach Britton official today, the Yanks DFA’d Hanser Alberto, and he was immediately claimed by the Orioles.

A.J. Cole, DFA’d just the other day by the Yanks, was claimed by Cleveland.

Aaron Hicks agreed to a $6MM deal for 2019, and Austin Romine to a $1.8MM deal.

For Dellin Betances, $7.25MM.

The Yanks signed a couple of guys to minor league deals. Drew Hutchison and Matt Lipka.

Hutchison, 28, is a RHP who went 2-2, 6.75 for the Phils and Rangers in 2018. For his career, he is 32-23, 5.10, ERA+ 79. His 162 g. average is 12-9, 5.10 (38 games, 30 starts). As a starter for Toronto in 2014 and 2015, he went 11-13 and 13-5 but his ERAs were 4.48 and 5.57. He provides some pitching depth.

Lipka is 26, and an OF/SS who hit .240-4-30 with 21 SB at AA in 2018.

 

 

Ex-Yanks’ coach Down dies at 68.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

One-time Yanks’ hitting coach Rick Down passed away Saturday Jan. 5th at the age of 68.

Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson will once again visit and work out with the Yanks in spring training. It’s expected he’ll get an at bat in an exhibition game. It’s more a publicity thing than anything else.

The Phillies hired a former mentor of Manny Machado in an effort to lure the slugger to Philadelphia.

Rumors are that Machado wants Stanton-like money or more. If that is the case, good luck with that, because the Yanks won’t go there. If Machado really wants to come to NY, it’s going to be on the Yankees’ terms.

Update: The Yanks and Greg Bird agreed to a 1 yr., $1.2 MM deal. A raise from $582K, but you can’t really say he deserved it.

 

Yanks appear out on Machado

Yankee Stadium Frieze

It appears that the Yanks are out on Machado, as they won’t give him the years or money he is asking for.

It appears that they haven’t even made an official offer, either.

It appears that the Phillies and White Sox (and the White Sox just recently added Machado’s brother-in-law as well as one of his good friends to the team) are the two teams he may go to, with the Phillies being the favorite.

This isn’t George’s Yankees anymore, it’s Hal’s. That’s becoming apparent with how they have handled (mishandled as some fans might say?) the Corbin and Machado dealings.

Note the word “appears.” We’ll see. Some rumors have the Yanks wanting to go no more than say 5 years, $130MM or so, not the 7-10 years and $210-$300MM that some say that the Machado camp is looking for.

It is becoming apparent that if Machado wants to go to his allegedly preferred destination, the Yankees, that it will be for less years and probably less money.

Despite the Dodgers having cleared some space by trading both Puig and Kemp to Cincinnati, the rumors are that Bryce Harper, instead of going to L.A., could be headed back to Washington.

Decisions for the two should be coming shortly. After all, we are just over a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting.

Soon, rumors will be facts.

Luxury vs. Necessity and the best solution?

Yankee Stadium Frieze

As the Yanks weigh various options, a take.

Re: Machado. The White sox now signed one of Machado’s friends to be on the team along with Machado’s brother in law.

Sing it with me (Sly and the Family Stone) It’s a Family Affair….. it’s a Family affair…

Family or no family, I wonder, even if the White Sox offer the most $$$ and years, whether Machado wants to go to a team that was 62-100 last year.

So, if Machado decides on the Yanks (and his wife may like the shops in NYC over Chicago), what then? What would be the best plan of attack?

For me, if Tulo proves he can handle SS again, then…

C Sanchez, 1B Voit (unless Bird can win his job back)
2B Torres SS Tulo 3B Machado DH Andujar (great D on left side of the infield)

Move Stanton back to LF, CF Hicks, RF Judge

Gardner and Ellsbury are backup OF, PR and Defensive replacements  (Frazier, who missed almost all of 2018, gets the AAA time he missed last year).

The only problem is that the lineup does not have enough lefty hitters. Yankee Stadium has always been for lefties, hitters and pitchers.

With the lineup they currently have without Machado, adding Machado is more a luxury to me than a necessity.

The greater need, to me, is to add Adam Ottavino to the bullpen. Adding him to Green, Betances, Britton and Chapman really solidifies that bullpen.

Now that CC has been cleared for baseball activities after his stent operation, the road is clear to dump Gray.

 

Could the Yanks see a 0, 00, or an O or OO on a uniform?

Yankee Stadium Frieze

As the Yanks pursue Adam Ottavino as a bullpen option, it remains to be seen. Could the Yanks see a zero or the letter O on a uniform?

No Yankee has ever worn the number zero or the letter O in the history of the Yankees.

Ottavino has worn the letter O for Colorado.

As we know, every number from 1 to 10 is retired by the Yankees.

1 Billy Martin (although I make the case for HOF Earle Combs. Other players to wear #1 were Bobby Richardson and from 1969-1974, Bobby Murcer).

2 Derek Jeter
3 Babe Ruth
4 Lou Gehrig
5 Joe DiMaggio
6 Joe Torre
7 Mickey Mantle
8 Bill Dickey & Yogi Berra
9 Roger Maris (and I advocate for something to be done for Graig Nettles)
10 Phil Rizzuto.

If the Yanks sign Adam Ottavino, he could be wearing either number Zero, or, if you prefer, the letter O.

There aren’t too many people as I recall, that wore 0 or 00. I know that the Boston Celtics have 00 retired in honor of the Chief, Robert Parish. In football, the great Raiders center, Jim Otto, wore 00.

Al Oliver wore 0, as, I believe, Oddibe McDowell.

Any others?